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Not sure it adds anything but couldn’t get others to read the pdf and wanted to share the results of pitching MATM to an open minded but skeptical group on a cousin family lake vacation. After explaining it poorly and offering to share the PDF they said it sounded interesting but no.. .  They suggested maybe it would be helpful to write out the rules so everyone could see them. With nothing to lose (it was this or *more* Settlers of Catan) I did my best to transcribe word for word with a few embellishments. Two cardboard boxes and a pack of markers later I got an audience, two confirmed yes, one maybe - date set for Sunday night.Cardboard Punk Edition

The digital Original is a beauty, but cohort asked for the rules to be written out. The process was fun, gained attention, and seemed a little on theme as more flaps were added. The final product folds up into a travel folder.

This is one of the most striking and beautiful experiences I've ever had playing an RPG. Masterful, 11/10.

I just played this game and it made me saaaaaaaaaaaaad!  (It's very good and was very fun and I liked it a lot, but also, we didn't use our anomalies like we should have.)

We played this for Hope's Hearth )an actual play podcast) and it made all of us cry!!

wait I have to check this out! how am I just now seeing this?!?!?

let me grab the link for you!

Heres the episodes in order:

Theyre all about an hour each. This game was so good and so amazing to play. We all made ourselves extremely sad about it.

let me grab the link for you!

Heres the episodes in order:

Theyre all about an hour each. This game was so good and so amazing to play. We all made ourselves extremely sad about it.

This was definitely very fun to play! We had a few stumbles figuring out the rules, but were able to get started playing very quickly and made a good story together. I played it with three friends, so four players, and I used a dice roller to randomly pick memories and events from the cards. The cards were definitely helpful, as having some inspiration is always a good starting point. We played this game fully online, and I simply sent each player the cards they rolled.

I also liked that the memories were each tied to a positive emotion. It made the stakes very intimate and personal. You can save the world, but at the cost of your dearest memories. It's an unusual sacrifice that I haven't seen before.

In terms of playing the game, we ended up not really using the "If you know how it started/ended" rules. We just said what we were going to change with the scene and then rolled, changing the scene according to the roll. We figured out after the second scene that using magic was always better, since you get that +1, so we started trying to use magic for everything. By the time we got to the sixth scene, though, we definitely had to get clever to come up with new adjectives! That was an effective limitation that got more restrictive as time went on.

One thing we realized was that if the very first person who tries to affect the scene rolls a 6, the scene ends immediately. That can feel kind of frustrating, because then the other players don't get a chance to engage. We started doing rounds instead, where each player got to roll once to try and change the scene, and then at the end of each round we decided whether the scene was finished or not.

We enjoyed using the anomalies to screw around with the scene, and after we realized how to use them, were able to immediately spend every anomaly we gained, so ending up with unused anomalies wasn't really a threat.

Another thing that tripped us up, narrative-wise, was how going through each memory affected the others. This is partially because we built an interlocking timeline, where the memories all affected each other. If we managed to eliminate the very first memory, but the second memory depended on the previous one existing, it's unclear whether we should incorporate the changes or move forward without them. We decided that all the changes would take effect at once when we returned to the future.

At the end, it is mentioned that we have saved the day in the end of the Playing the Game instructions, but I expected it to be inside the Resolution, so I missed it initially. It's also unclear - and kind of boring - what to do when a scene didn't generate ANY anomalies. We decided to roll 2d6 with advantage if you had a lucky scene like that. Overall, this was a VERY fun game that I would play again! Definitely worth $5-10.

Cool concept! Curious who did the art. Did you do the art as well as writing this?

What are the cards for and are they needed 

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The cards aren't necessary. They're sample prompts that can be used to fill in the details of the game if you're having trouble coming up with your own

Wait, so you actually need them to play? I was planning to run this over discord.

*aren't necessary

Oooooh okay. Thank you.

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Mage Against The Machine is fantastic. It's six pages, black-and-white, with exceptional art (seriously, the cover's incredible and the interior pieces are spectacular too) plus a fun, solid premise.

You play as mages travelling back in time to stop a robot apocalypse, in a sort of reverse-terminator setup that also nods to WoD's Mage.

For a game with this much pulp, it's a little unusual to see it take a rotating GM approach, but even so it does a really solid job of fashioning a hook out of pure story and using it to pull you in.

As part of character creation, you define memories that are important to your character. And then you tie them into the runup to the apocalypse.

Then you jump to those points in time, with the person whose memory you're intruding on serving as the GM for the scene.

Dice are used, and there's a little bit of crunch to them. You roll a d6 to determine how your meddling goes, and the result is slightly weighted towards failure and complication unless you use magic and describe how with an adjective. Repeating adjectives means failure, but using similar adjectives generates temporal anomalies, which anyone can use to add complications or change a scene.

Temporal anomalies ultimately change and pollute the timestream, so while the game will always end with you defeating the robots, it will often be "at what cost?"---making for a solid, conflicted beat to end on, or a potent sequel hook.

Overall, I think Mage Against The Machine is worth putting on your radar. It's fun, it plays quick, it works both as a warmup game or a one-shot, and the art is full of serious standout images. If you like pulpy time-travel stories, this is probably one of the easiest ones to play.

Minor Issues:

-When resolving memories, do you roll every time you attempt to resolve them? Or do you just roll once, and the memory is bricked if you weren't able to solve it?


You can keep rolling to resolve a memory, but you're likely to generate more anomalies the longer it takes, glad you liked it so much! This game was kinda experimental so people enjoying it makes me happy :)